African-American college dropouts on average earn less than do white Americans with only a high school degree.
.. It’s a cruel irony that a college degree is worth less to people who most need a boost: those born poor.
.. What all this suggests is that the college-degree premium may really be a no-college-degree penalty. It’s not necessarily college that gives people the leverage to build a better working life, it’s that not having a degree decreases whatever leverage they might otherwise have.
This distinction is more than semantic. It is key to understanding the growing chasm between educational attainment and life prospects. For most of us, it’s not our education that determines our employment trajectory but rather where that education positions us in relation to others.